The European Scientific Diving Panel

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Scientific Diving

The purpose of Scientific Diving (SD) is the undertaking and delivery of underwater science. SD supports professional research and education as well as the protection, conservation and monitoring of the natural and cultural environment. SD is a highly-productive, cost-effective research tool. It is neither recreational nor commercial diving. It provides the technical capability to be an “intelligent monitoring system”, greatly extending the possibilities of ship supported/based monitoring techniques. Scientific diving exists in a health and safety framework that involves certified scientific divers, diving officers, scientific project leaders, heads of laboratories, administrators and legislators. The most of SD throughout Europe is done in connection with marine research institutes and stations.

The European Scientific Diving Panel

The European Scientific Diving Panel (ESDP) is the European platform for the advancement of underwater scientific excellence and to promote and provide a practical support framework for scientific diving at a European scale. The ESDP was initiated in 2008 as a European Marine Board Panel (until April 2017) and currently is receiving organizational support from the European network of Marine Stations (MARS).
At present delegates of 12 countries are participating in the panel, chaired by Jean-Pierre Féral (IMBE, FR).


The ESDP focuses on:
1. Operational and safety issues related to scientific diving (capacity building – standards, guides and documents)
2. Highlighting the usefulness of Scientific Diving as a feasible, cost effective and safe tool for research (dissemination activities)
3. Encouraging international mobility in the European scientific diving community


1. Capacity building
ESDP is a focused and technical panel which delivers concrete outputs in the form of European scientific diving standards and consultation documents, which are currently available for download on the following topics (registration required):
– Common Practices and EU Competency levels
– Delivery of science through diving
– Scientific Diving from large Research vessels
ESDP is currently working on:
– Scientific Diving medical examinations in Europe, USA and New Zealand – lead M. Sayer, UK
– Scientific Diving requirements facilitating safe mobility of scientific divers within Europe – lead J.-P. Féral, FR
– The benefit and use of rebreathers in Scientific Diving – lead A. Norro, BE

2. Dissemination of results obtained by scientific diving
A recent survey carried out at a European scale) demonstrated that from 2011-2015 over 60 articles published in journals with ISI Impact Factor of 5 or higher (covering disciplines like Ecology, Climate Change/Ocean Acidification, Science-based Archaeology, Geochemistry, Polar Biology, Conservation Biology and Genomics) have been based on indispensable scientific diving activities.
Such initiative will be repeated in the near future.

News and Events (visit ESDP website)

For more information: see the ESDP website.

For more information please contact ESDP.

Monitoring of coralligenous assemblages – NW Mediterranean. © F. Zuberer

SD in extreme environments – Austral Ocean, Terre Adélie © D. Dellile

Sampling a geothermal spring © G. Caramanna

Inspection and monitoring to ensure the good functioning of a lander – North Sea. © M. Sayer